A doubleheader of the Xfinity Series My Bariatric Solutions 300 on Saturday 10:30 pm, Live on Dsport and the Monster Energy Cup O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on Sunday 10:30 pm, Live on Dsport will feature “stage racing,” introduced by NASCAR this season.

In short, pay more attention to the early laps.

“It’s been a great change to our sport,” said Kyle Larson, the Cup series leader. “Happy that they have done it.”

Here is a primer to “stage racing” and how it will work at TMS. The format will also be used in the Camping World Truck series events during the season.

Consider every event as three races in one. At TMS, the Xfinity stages will be laps 1-45, 46-90 and 91-200, and the Cup stages will be laps 1-85, 86-170 and 171-334. A stage can end under a caution.

The top 10 finishers in the first two stages receive points for their season total. The stage winner receives one point that carries over into the playoffs. (The Chase tag has been dumped.)

The final stage has a normal black-and-white checkered-flag ending. Each racer receives points and the winner picks up five playoff points.

There will be a caution during which teams may pit after each of the first two stages. The starting order for the next stage will be determined by how cars come off pit road. Cars that stay out during the caution would lead.

“I like every aspect of it,” said Ryan Newman, of Richard Childress Racing. “The cumulative effort that goes into a championship, I think, is back. Not to the way it was, but without a doubt a step in the right direction of having a true Cup champion.”

NASCAR’s intent is to encourage more interesting racing from start to finish, eliminating the boring lulls that can pop up during longer races. So far, it has succeeded.

“After watching it, I think it’s great,” TMS president Eddie Gossage said. “You’ve got really hard racing. Not that they weren’t racing hard before. I don’t know how they could race harder. But they’re trying strategy and other things to pick up those points.

“It’s fascinating, and more competition.”

Larson, with Chip Ganassi Racing, has had more success with stage racing than most. The strategy is to spend as much time as possible running among the top 10.

Consider his performance at Phoenix International Raceway last month. He finished with 53 points, 11 more than the race-winner Newman. Larson did that by adding 18 stage points. Newman had only two stage points.

“It honestly probably makes the racing easier because you can break it up,” Larson said. “I feel like the racing has been more intense at the end of the stages. … I’ve liked stage racing a lot.”

Chase Elliott leads in stage points overall with 79, four more than Larson. By comparison, seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson has only 28 stage points. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has 17 stage points.

“It’s added a cool element to the races,” Elliott said. “There are a lot of points to be gained by winning those stages.”

That will make for racing as different as the new asphalt surface and reconfigured turns 1 and 2 at TMS.

Source: Sports Day

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